Local individuals and businesses can support children who are victims of abuse by participating in Buy a Bear! Show You Care! campaign.

The initiative is organized by the Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), which focuses on protecting children. CAC serves children who are victims of severe abuse through prevention, education and intervention.

Coffee County continues to have one of the highest rates of reported abuse in Tennessee, according to CAC Executive Director Joyce Prusak.

“During the month of February, several community businesses sell paper bear cutouts for $1 as part of the Buy a Bear! Show You Care! campaign that benefits the Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center,” Prusak said.

The initiative has supported CAC financially for several years.

“The center started this campaign nearly nine years ago, with a few years’ break,” Prusak said, adding the program now is “back in full swing.”

The Tullahoma businesses taking part in the campaign are Coffee County Realty and Auction, First National Bank, Coffee County Bank and Workout Express, according to Prusak.

“Although there are a few Tullahoma locations participating this month, the CAC is looking for local Tullahoma businesses that would be willing to commit to selling the bears one month a year,” Prusak said.

All proceeds from Buy a Bear! Show You Care! fundraiser go directly to supporting CAC and the programs for children and families that have experienced abuse.

The funds also help to develop the prevention programs hosted by the center.

“Some of the local businesses really get into the spirit of things and have challenges between their employees as to who can sell the most bears, and some banks even have a competition between their branches,” Prusak said. “This is an easy way for people to help and all the money stays here to help local children and families.”

For more information about participating in the Buy a Bear! Show You Care! campaign, call CAC at 931-723-8888.

 

Protecting youth

Since opening its doors in 2005, more than 3,700 children and their non-offending families have been referred for services to the center, said Prusak.

Additionally, the CAC provides child abuse prevention workshop for children and adults in the community.

More than 20,000 children in the local schools have participated in the center’s programs, Prusak said.

CAC receives referrals of cases that are classified by the state as severe abuse. Child sexual abuse cases are automatically considered severe and make up the majority of the cases the center sees in an average year. The center also sees severe physical abuse and neglect cases, according to Prusak.

All CAC services are provided free of charge.

A nonprofit organization, the center’s funding comes from donations and funds from private foundations and state grants. More than 50 percent of the center’s budget must be raised in the community and through small grants.

The center is located at 104 N. Spring St. in Manchester. For more information, call 931-723-8888.

Elena Cawley can be reached via email at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.